purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
Given that half the point of Iris Wildthyme appears to be to pastiche genres of various descriptions, I can see the attraction behind the idea for The Panda Book of Horror. After all the horror genre, almost more than any other, is awash with styles and tropes which are practically designed for pastiche. On the other hand, it is quite hard to pastiche something and still produce a bona fide Horror story. The stories in The Panda Book of Horror mostly lurch rather uneasily between attempting to provide genuine chills and laughs.

It doesn't help that Iris, as a character, is peculiarly unsuited to Horror. We are never really given to suppose that her love of partying hard and her down-to-earth bull-in-a-china-shop approach to problem solving conceals any inner turmoil or suppressed fears and so, by and large, the horror just washes past her. This means that I felt by far and away the most successful story in the collection was Simon Guerrier's The Party in Room Four where the point-of-view is that of a traumatised and bereaved man for whom Iris' very brusqueness and jollity, which he percieves only from afar, is an affront and, ultimately, a component of the horror itself. Dale Smith in The Fag Hag from Hell also attempts to take this tack, of making Iris the Horror, not the victim, but less successfully since Iris doesn't, frankly, make a convincing villain. The story is, ultimately, quite clever and complex but a lot of the build-up hinges on the possibility that Iris could be some kind of monster and that never quite convinces.

Other stories I liked were Paul Magrs' The Delightful Bag although I wished that had been a novella rather than a short story. Much of it seemed very rushed and given it was evoking the atmosphere of children's fantasy books, with a small beleaguered town on Christmas Eve beset by magical happenings, I would have loved it to have had more space to breath as a story. Honourable mention also goes to The Niceness by Jacqueline Rayner and Orna Petit for its clever and well-executed central idea.

All that said, and despite my doubts about the theme, I think it did provide a unifying element that gave the collection a distinct identity when I often think that themes work against the stories in these anthologies. I've sometimes felt authors weren't entirely clear what Iris Wildthyme, as a character, is about and the Horror theme seemed to reduce that uncertainty and she emerged more as her own person and less as a commentary on the Doctor. Even so, I suspect, this remains a collection of interest primarily to Doctor Who fans.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/36523.html.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (books)
Given that half the point of Iris Wildthyme appears to be to pastiche genres of various descriptions, I can see the attraction behind the idea for The Panda Book of Horror. After all the horror genre, almost more than any other, is awash with styles and tropes which are practically designed for pastiche. On the other hand, it is quite hard to pastiche something and still produce a bona fide Horror story. The stories in The Panda Book of Horror mostly lurch rather uneasily between attempting to provide genuine chills and laughs.

It doesn't help that Iris, as a character, is peculiarly unsuited to Horror. We are never really given to suppose that her love of partying hard and her down-to-earth bull-in-a-china-shop approach to problem solving conceals any inner turmoil or suppressed fears and so, by and large, the horror just washes past her. This means that I felt by far and away the most successful story in the collection was Simon Guerrier's The Party in Room Four where the point-of-view is that of a traumatised and bereaved man for whom Iris' very brusqueness and jollity, which he percieves only from afar, is an affront and, ultimately, a component of the horror itself. Dale Smith in The Fag Hag from Hell also attempts to take this tack, of making Iris the Horror, not the victim, but less successfully since Iris doesn't, frankly, make a convincing villain. The story is, ultimately, quite clever and complex but a lot of the build-up hinges on the possibility that Iris could be some kind of monster and that never quite convinces.

Other stories I liked were Paul Magrs' The Delightful Bag although I wished that had been a novella rather than a short story. Much of it seemed very rushed and given it was evoking the atmosphere of children's fantasy books, with a small beleaguered town on Christmas Eve beset by magical happenings, I would have loved it to have had more space to breath as a story. Honourable mention also goes to The Niceness by Jacqueline Rayner and Orna Petit for its clever and well-executed central idea.

All that said, and despite my doubts about the theme, I think it did provide a unifying element that gave the collection a distinct identity when I often think that themes work against the stories in these anthologies. I've sometimes felt authors weren't entirely clear what Iris Wildthyme, as a character, is about and the Horror theme seemed to reduce that uncertainty and she emerged more as her own person and less as a commentary on the Doctor. Even so, I suspect, this remains a collection of interest primarily to Doctor Who fans.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (doctor who)
So, errr, about sixth months ago the JadePagoda decided all to read and review The Many Hands by Paul Dale Smith. I am more than a little late, both in reading it and then in writing this review.

Anyway, consensus of opinion on JP (if I remember back that far accurately) was that it was quite a dull run-around up until page 100 and picked up thereafter. At the risk of sounding shallow, I actually rather enjoyed all the running around and certainly didn't feel that I noticed any sudden shift in quality or tone at the 100 page mark. I'm not sure the running around is entirely pointless either, in particular a fair amount of character work is going on, building up the antagonistic English Captain McAllister and developing his relationship with the Doctor. Certainly it's around page 100 that the more horrific aspects begin to turn up - but this is horror for intelligent eight-year olds so it's not exactly a dramatic shift in tone.

This is a tale of 18th Century Edinburgh, complete with Enlightenment scientists, surgeons, buried streets and body-snatching. There are also zombies which aren't, it has to be said, a particularly Edinburgh thing but this is Doctor Who and obviously, if you're going to have body-snatching, you might as well have zombies too.

Of all the new series Doctor Who books I've read, this is the one I've enjoyed most. I'm not quite sure why. Possibly its because I'm so fond of Edinburgh, and the book is very Edinburgh. Possibly it's because it is the first new series adventure I've actively chosen to read, rather than reading it because I read all Doctor Who novels, and it benefits from being approached on its own terms. Possibly it was the lack of any kidults. I don't think it particularly rises above (what I presume was) its brief as a historical action-adventure runaround but it does what it does very well.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (doctor who)
The last segment of Time and Relative Dissertations in Space was the part that contained the most essays that read like articles out of DWM. This kind of journalistic article is very well but, as I've got older, I've become more aware of the way these things really are just opinion with no real theoretical framework to back them up and so they felt out of place to me in this volume which was otherwise working quite hard to present its material academically.

The Talons of Robert Holmes )

Why is 'City of Death' the best Doctor Who story? )

Canonicity matters: defining the Doctor Who canon )

Broader and deeper: the lineage of and impact of the Timewyrm series )

Televisuality without television? The Big Finish audios and discourses of 'tele-centric' Doctor Who )

So, all in all, I found lots to interest me in Time and Relative Dissertations in Space. But, as I said when I started these reviews, I think it suffers from an uneven tone - veering wildly from very jargon heavy academic discourse to much fluffier, more journalistic pieces and the lasts quarter, in particular, didn't appear to me to have a great deal to offer beyond the articles you can (or at least used to, pre-2005) find regularly in Doctor Who Magazine.

WHO DAILY HTML: <lj user=louisedennis> <a href="http://louisedennis.livejournal.com/81978.html">reviews part four of time and relative disserations in space</a>

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